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Ask Max: Applications Slow to Launch at Boot

Asked on 09/16/2008:

My new Intel iMac 24" 2.8 GHz is maxed out with RAM (4 GB), yet apps launched from the dock right after I boot up all launch like "molasses in January" with the spinning rainbow beach ball. Then, after a few minutes, the same apps (Office 2008, and Safari, etc., for example) begin noticeably launching a little quicker, but still aren't as snappy on launch as they were when the iMac was new and before I installed Leopard and Office 2008. What should I suspect as the culprit for these longer launch times especially right after booting up?


There can be a few things at the root of a slow loading applications problem, some of which may be more difficult to hunt down than it's worth.

First, you should examine the hidden applications that start up behind the scenes of the Mac OS. Start in the "Accounts" System Preference, and look in your user account's "Login Items." Make note of what they are and try removing them one at a time. Restart each time after you delete one item. If the problem persists, use Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder to examine all the processes running after you first start up. Look for processor or hard drive hungry applications.

You can also try booting up in Safe Mode by holding down the Shift key on startup. If applications launch fast in Safe Mode, then it is probably a non-Apple software conflict. Finally, the most thorough way to fully resolve this kind of issue by doing an Archive and Install of OS X. This should replace all the system software, without harming your user info and applications.

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